A week ago, Fiorentina Femminile finished their season with a 2-1 victory over San Marino. Fielding a team that is for the first time healthy, Fiorentina finished the season winning four in a row and five out of their last six. Despite their hot finish, moving up to fourth in the table, Fiorentina did underachieve. The club has been going through a seismic shift in recent years. One of the founding principals of the team, Sandro Mencucci, had left two years prior and has since found success in helping to bring a reborn Leeds United back to global prominence. Three of the greatest players the club has known left coming into this season: Alia Guagni (Atletico Madrid), Ilaria Mauro (Inter), and Alice Parisi (Sassuolo).
Serie A Femminile is a league that is experiencing less player loyalty due to the fact that women in Italy still cannot earn professional salaries and benefits and many clubs are now trying to find ways to supplement compensation through various other endorsement agreements. Despite this shift there has been one person who has stayed true to the Viola, through all of its ups and downs: coach Antonio Cincotta.
But now many are casting doubt on his time in Firenze. Why? During his Empoli post-game interview two weeks ago, Antonio spoke out against the national Italian media who have been publishing lies about his relationship with Fiorentina and the prospects of his future. Many publications have published inside information putting Cincotta in Inter Milan interviewing for their job and other coaches in Firenze interviewing for the Fiorentina job. These would be the same publications that Fiorentina owner, Rocco Commisso, spoke out against the day before.
“I’m very happy, the girls know it. Four weeks ago, many were playing the funeral march for Fiorentina, but I knew it wasn’t like that. The only problem was the numerous absences that led the team to train badly. We got together, I avoided the words that came out from [those publications] polluting the environment and we recovered the game, ideas and victories.” Antonio spoke to his players and told them not to listen to the papers, that the stories published were all made up. They need to go out and perform, play strong for the club.
I was able to speak with Antonio after. Antonio clarified for me that he stands firmly with Rocco Commisso and the comments he made in his press conference. From our conversation I was able to understand why both men have grown increasingly frustrated. Eventually the truth must get out there, even if in a country of biased journalists, they must speak the truth themselves.
Rocco and Antonio have always seemed to get along very well. It was Rocco who helped Antonio with his studies in Coverciano. Rocco has shown up to almost as many women’s games as he has men’s. So why are in this situation of potential change? There is much speculation out there. Some fans have told stories of player disagreements, one of which has left the club. Some fans have never fully been on board with Antonio and his approach. These fans also bark the loudest from my experience. But what does Antonio say on his future?
Speaking with me a week ago Antonio made it abundantly clear, as he has every time we have discussed this topic this season. He is 100% in love with the city of Firenze, its people, the Fiorentina Femminile club, its players, and its fans. In no wavering terms he clearly stated his intentions – to stay as the coach of Fiorentina Femminile next year and the years afterwards. There was no room for interpretation when he once again stated that he has never interviewed for another coaching position and that Fiorentina has not interviewed anyone else. Both club and Cincotta agreed to discuss their futures following the season, like they did last year. Recently Antonio Cincotta registered his 100th win in charge of his Viola. In his time at the helm, since 2016 his teams finished 1st once, 2nd twice and 4th twice (his first two years were spent alongside former Fiorentina footballer Sauro Fattori). He has won four cups! Much of Antonio’s success has come from having a tremendous eye when evaluating and signing talent. It was he who found and signed Tatiana Bonetti, Martina Zanoli, Martina Piemonte, Sara Baldi, Marta Mascarello and many more.
For Cincotta, a stay in Firenze makes perfect sense. He has built this squad full of young Italian talents and surrounded it with European veterans. This year has had many growing pains, emphasizing the pains. It wasn’t until the final games that the team was healthy enough to field a preferred starting 11. But Antonio loves his girls, the fans and Firenze.
He also moonlights as a professor in Roma. For many lucky students at the University of Rome, they get to learn from one of the most brilliant minds I have ever spoken with every week as he is instructing them in the University of Roma’s Soccer Management Institute. Firenze is home for the guy. When you take this all into consideration, there can be no other outcome. Fiorentina Femminile are no longer the top dog that they were five years ago. The large clubs all have teams now and the competition for talent is far tougher. Because of Italian rules not allowing women to get proper funding many of the club’s best players will come and go. Loyalty can only count for so much and these professional women should always work to maximize their earning potential. But Fiorentina Femminile do need a bandiera. Who ever said that the bandiera couldn’t be its coach? Antonio Cincotta is Fiorentina Femminile’s bandiera and it will be his love and hard work that will continue to bring some of the most talented Italian women through our club. Just don’t let that go to your head Mister!